Sunset & Tragedy - 1964



There is one flight in a VP-45 P3 that has left two indelible impressions on my mind: One is of a sunset, the other…well, read on..........

We took off from NAS JAX about 1400 and flew to the Caribbean to work with a submarine, doing the usual things that are done on this type training flight. We had made contact with the sub andsunset were working a pattern at an altitude of about two hundred feet. Our location was about one hundred miles east of Eleuthera, flying in a westerly direction.

It was then about 2000 hours and the sun was setting. This was not just any sunset, this was a SUNSET! The curvature of the earth, the island between us and the sun, the colors created by the changing light the scene has stayed with me for over thirty years, and the whole experience comes back to me at odd moments and whenever I wish to recall that glorious vision.

Now for the other part of the tale.............Sometime about 2130 the PPC decided to let the copilot take over the controls and had the navigator move to the cockpit. The PPC stretched out on the bench behind the pilot and almost immediately began a nap. My position at this time was sitting on the other bench and observing.

At about 2200 the PPC raised up very fast and told the pilot to, “Pull Up! We’re going to crash!” The PPC was assured we were OK and he lay back down. Within a minute he rose up again and shouted, “Pull up, we’re going to fly into the water!!!” He was again reassured we were OK and he resumed his nap. A little while later the PPC took over, we departed station and flew back to JAX.

We arrived a short time after 2400. When we got to the hangar we learned a VP-45 P3 had been lost out of Argentia, Newfoundland at about 2200 hours, and there were no survivors.

Contributed by Allen McCroskey

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